Just before Memorial Day weekend about three months ago, those in the tourism industry were optimistic about what the season would bring. With summer now drawing to a close, it seems that optimism has been validated.
A survey recently conducted by Explore Minnesota, the state’s official tourism promotion office, indicates a strong summer of travel activity and continued up-ward trend for the industry.
The 211 survey respondents work in a variety of vacation lodging types, including hotels, motels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, campgrounds and home rentals. Compared with measurements from the 2017 summer season, this season’s revenue was up for 50 percent of participants, and occupancy was up for 47 percent of participants.
Meanwhile only 26 percent of respondents said revenue was down, and only 25 percent said occupancy was down.
Additionally, 83 percent offered comforting outlooks on their current financial health, with 27 percent classifying it as growing or stable, and 56 percent classifying it as positive.
"These results continue a positive trend for Minnesota tourism, and coupled with a strong economy and great product, indicate that statewide and local promotion efforts are working," said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota, in a statement. "From the great outdoors to urban excitement, unique hidden gems and cultural events, Minnesota offers an appealing and affordable getaway for residents and visitors alike."
The successful summer season began right after Meet Minneapolis released a May report that the Twin Cities alone had seen 33 million visitors throughout 2017 – a 2.6 percent increase from 2016’s record mark.
Meet Minneapolis president and CEO Melvin Tennant credited improved tourism for the Twin Cities to a revamped city masterplan, while the positive pre-season summer outlook for statewide tourism was preemptively credited to a good economy, industry marketing efforts, customer service, new or renovated lodging facilities, social media inspiration, and vacation eagerness stirred by a long, harsh winter.
Despite prior evidence of tourism being on the rise, summer business even exceeded expectations, as only 40 percent of 241 respondents to the pre-season survey expected a revenue uptick and only 39 percent anticipated the occupancy increase.
While the end is near for the most significant time for the tourism economy – the summer travel season rakes in 37 percent of annual expenditures that are part of the state’s $15 billion tourism economy – the second busiest time is now approaching.
Indeed, fall accounts for 25 percent of annual expenditures, and the outlook for the upcoming season favors more good fortune to come.
Responses for the same post-summer survey reveal 33 percent of industry players expect revenue in the fall season to surpass last year’s mark, and 31 percent expect increased occupancy.
"2018 has been a great year for Minnesota tourism, and the momentum will continue during Minnesota's second-busiest travel season,” said Edman. “Fall is short and sweet, so travelers are eager to get out and chase the colors as part of a Minnesota getaway.”
Explore Minnesota doing what it can to help ensure fall is a success, including the continuation of its campaign #OnlyinMN, which highlights the unique things the state has to offer, at all times of the year.